Asthma:How Breathing Is Political

by movelicious on June 13, 2012

You’re deeply asleep, dreaming, dreaming of loves, lost and found, and suddenly you’re drowning. Inescapably, water closing in, rushing over your head. You’re trying to surface, to breathe. B-r-e-a-t-h-e but you cannot. This is how my asthma attacks usually feel like.

I am not alone. In the USA close to 26 million Americans have asthma; and the numbers are increasing. (New York Times)

what is asthma? It is a chronic “lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.” (NHLBI) There is no cure for asthma but there are ways to manage it.

 what are common asthma triggers?
  • air pollution
  • exposure to cigarette smoke
  • allergies
  • acute stress
  • exercise

what can you do? A recent editorial in the New York Times suggested “stronger regulations to reduce exposure to cigarette smoke and to control air pollution,” including preventing cars from idling in school zones. (NYT) Asthmatics need health care. The condition has to be monitored and access to medication is essential.

Before the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955, ...

is breathing political? Asthma highlights how political the personal can really be. For example, in the USA more Blacks than Whites die to due asthma attacks (CDC). And why have asthma rates in the USA increased? In 2001 7.3% of Americans had asthma in 2001, in 2010 it was 8.4%) (CDC).  Is it connected to rising obesity rates, pollution, or even overuse of the life saving medicines asthmatics depend on. What has to be done?

Breathing. Such a personal act that needs political solutions.



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